Chinese, also known as Sinitic, is a branch of the Sino-Tibetan language family consisting of hundreds of local language varieties that are not mutually intelligible. The differences are greater than within the Romance languages, with variation particularly strong in the more mountainous southeast. There is currently no classification of Sinitic languages, or even a comprehensive list. The family is typically divided into several subfamilies: Mandarin, Wu, Min, Xiang, Gan, Hakka and Yue, though some varieties remain unclassified. Some authors further break up Mandarin, Wu, Yue and especially Min. These groups are neither clades nor individual languages defined by mutual intelligibility, but reflect common phonological developments from Middle Chinese.

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  • Chinese, also known as Sinitic, is a branch of the Sino-Tibetan language family consisting of hundreds of local language varieties that are not mutually intelligible. The differences are greater than within the Romance languages, with variation particularly strong in the more mountainous southeast. There is currently no classification of Sinitic languages, or even a comprehensive list. The family is typically divided into several subfamilies: Mandarin, Wu, Min, Xiang, Gan, Hakka and Yue, though some varieties remain unclassified. Some authors further break up Mandarin, Wu, Yue and especially Min. These groups are neither clades nor individual languages defined by mutual intelligibility, but reflect common phonological developments from Middle Chinese. Chinese varieties differ most in their phonology, and to a lesser extent in vocabulary and syntax. Southern varieties tend to have fewer initial consonants than northern and central varieties, but more often preserve the Middle Chinese final consonants. All have phonemic tones, with northern varieties tending to have fewer distinctions than southern ones. Many have tone sandhi, with the most complex patterns in the coastal area from Zhejiang to eastern Guangdong. Standard Chinese, a form of Mandarin, takes its phonology from the Beijing dialect, with vocabulary from the Mandarin group and grammar based on literature in the modern written vernacular. It is one of the official languages of China. Taiwanese Mandarin is one of the official languages of Taiwan. Standard Singaporean Mandarin is one of the four official languages of Singapore. Chinese (specifically, Mandarin Chinese) is one of the six official languages of the United Nations. (en)
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  • Chinese, also known as Sinitic, is a branch of the Sino-Tibetan language family consisting of hundreds of local language varieties that are not mutually intelligible. The differences are greater than within the Romance languages, with variation particularly strong in the more mountainous southeast. There is currently no classification of Sinitic languages, or even a comprehensive list. The family is typically divided into several subfamilies: Mandarin, Wu, Min, Xiang, Gan, Hakka and Yue, though some varieties remain unclassified. Some authors further break up Mandarin, Wu, Yue and especially Min. These groups are neither clades nor individual languages defined by mutual intelligibility, but reflect common phonological developments from Middle Chinese. (en)
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  • Varieties of Chinese (en)
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